The Blue Summit – What’s it all about?:
Randy Taguchi is a popular Japanese author who has written fourteen novels, along with countless short stories and essays. This recent collection of stories revolves around Japan’s Mount Fuji, one of the three Holy Mountains in the country. The mountain becomes an anchor for each of the characters lives, and remains a steady, looming presence in each tale. Our first story – The Blue Summit involves a former cult member working part-time at a convenience store, who is struggling to adjust and understand life outside of the cult. After an attempted robbery at the store, he contemplates his early life in which he was a medical student compared to his current meanderings, and questions the meaning of what it is to be “alive.”
What did I think?:
I’m a big fan of Japanese fiction so I was looking forward to starting this collection. The Blue Summit is a quirky, thought-provoking story, with a philosophical former cult member as our protagonist. He is currently working part-time at a convenience store which he enjoys as it gives him time to reflect on the meaning of life. When confronted by a robber, he seems to re-assess everything anew, unsure of his place and purpose in the world. He undergoes dream-like sequences where he defends himself against the robber, or recalls past times under Mount Fuji in his cult days. Another important character in the story is a troubled young woman called Kozue – a serial self-harmer. Our protagonist feels called upon to protect and help her, and through these actions he seems to find some peace.
I was intrigued and at some points completely mystified by this story – it seemed to hop around a lot with dream sequences, and I found myself wondering which events happened and which were purely dreams or fantasies. This I think was a deliberate ploy by the author representing our characters confused and turbulent mood. The addition of Kozue was an excellent means of keeping the tale interesting, and I enjoyed the interaction and mystery between the two of them.
Would I recommend it?:
Star rating (out of 5):
NEXT SHORT STORY: Vampires In The Lemon Grove, Karen Russell from the collection Vampires in the Lemon Grove.